Happy Birthday, Paula Modersohn-Becker

 

Paula Modersohn-Becker [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rainer Maria Rilke –  Painting by Paula Modersohn-Becker 

“I think the time is coming for struggle and uncertainty. It comes into every serious and beautiful life. I knew all along that it had to come.”

Paula Modersohn-Becker (February 8, 1876 – November 21, 1907)

Paula Modersohn-Becker was a rare combination of artist and writer. A diarist and prodigious letter-writing, she offered us a glimpse of what it was like to live in her time, to hear her voice and listen to the stories behind her artwork.     At the time of her death at the early age of 31, shortly after the birth of her daughter Mathilde (Tillie), very few people knew about her remarkable contribution to early expressionism. Indeed, if it were not for her writings, she would have disappeared into the folds of history.

Paula Modersohn-Becker is a reminder to keep on writing, to fulfill whatever creative endeavours are within us.   She lived a beautiful life, embracing the struggle and uncertainty that comes with being alive.

“In art one is usually totally alone with oneself.”

Paula Modersohn-Becker

The Three Benchmarks of Christmas

Merry Christmas

Christmas Eve brings together all the magic of the holiday season.  The last-minute shopping completed, we ready our hearts for the special day anticipated since the beginning of December.  All the plans have been made, the gifts wrapped and the baking completed.

And then the day comes…

Christmas has a number of benchmarks that have a subtle influence over all of our holiday activities, even though most of us do not recognize them as self-imposed standards of excellence. We compare our abilities to give gifts to our children.  We determine who can make the best eggnog, send the most Christmas cards; even who has the greatest number of guests seated at the dinner table.  We exchange Christmas letters that confirm that we have been blessed over the past year.  Looking beyond individual endeavours, even the markets of the world calculate the effect of Christmas purchases on stock prices – toys, electronics, and clothes. Charitable organizations measure the amount of homeless that need to be fed and housed over Christmas.  One day creates a generous amount of statistics.

Why is Christmas so extraordinary?  Gifts are given at birthdays; love is celebrated on Valentine’s Day, rebirth at the Vernal Equinox.  Perhaps it is because Christmas gives us three benchmarks that speak to the longing of all humanity.   They are found in all traditions and have been embraced throughout history.  These standards of excellence are set so high that only a global community can achieve them….collectively.

Joy to the World – for all creatures that live on our earth

Peace on Earth – for all of our wondrously diverse cultures and traditions.

Goodwill to mankind – for all to accept our responsibility to others; to cooperate, respect and participate.

“If you find that not many of the things you asked for have come, and not perhaps quite so many as sometimes, remember that this Christmas all over the world there are a terrible number of poor and starving people.”

 J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters from Father Christmas

Street Art & Connections

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Art cannot be contained behind the walls of stately palaces, posh galleries or antiquated museums. Art is not the sole domain of private collectors.  For me, art is a universal concept that connects artist and explorer, teacher and student, adult and child.  Over the centuries, attempts to structure creativity have, in many cases, brought about the opposite effect.  New art forms came into being, allowing us to redefine our personal connections to creative endeavours.

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Street Art is all about connections.  Street artists have brought art to a public space; they communicate with people where they work, live, play.  There is a strong sense of activism and a determination to start a dialogue about things that matter and are relevant to our time, and to our communities both local and global.  Whether it takes the form of graffiti, poster art, or flash mobs, we are challenged to stop, to pay attention, to participate, to enjoy.

A special thanks to GraffitiLux & Murals for inspiring me to look deeper into this art-form.

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Hello everyone!

Today is World Hello Day, the 43rd since its inception in 1973.  My mission was to greet at least 10 people today and join many other kindred spirits who seek peaceful dialogue.   World Hello Day is observed by people in 180 countries and continues to bring the message that we can make a difference.  Individual effort has always been the catalyst for monumental change.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

The Art of Remembering

I Remember

The official motto of Quebec. “I remember.”

There is a time to remember, to look back, to give thanks, to mourn.  Some moments come back with vibrant clarity while others with a lingering wistfulness, and still others with a melancholy loneliness. Memories give meaning to our lives.  It is our way of saying that we have passed this way and we will remember.  We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.   We grieve at funerals and lament the possibilities of what might have been.

Vimy Ridge

Battle of Vimy Ridge April 9 – 12, 1917

Remembering is both an act of courage and hope.  It is embracing all that life has to offer, whether it be joy or pain, laughter or tears.  When we remember, our creative spirit allows us to experience the full measure of our emotional responses.   We hear a strain of music, read the line of poetry, recognize an idea in a painting.   We listen to the stories. This is the best of what art offers.

Today, as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Canada observed Remembrance Day, “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”  Streets were filled with people wearing brilliant red poppies, reminiscent of the poppies that bloomed across Flanders, during WWI.  As a nation, we remember the sacrifice of brave men and women who served.  We remember the families who suffered the loss of loved ones.  We remember that peace is a gift that demands our highest commitment.

We Remember

 “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”

Laurence Binyon, For the Fallen

Written on the Cliffs, North Cornwall UK

In Memory

Christ Church Cathedral: RCAF motto: Per Ardua Ad Astra “Through hardships to the stars.”